tv The Lead With Jake Tapper CNN December 28, 2016 1:00pm-2:01pm PST
champs elysees to ring in a new year that they hope will be more peaceful than the two preceding it. melissa belle, cnn, paris. >> "the lead" with jake tapper starts right now. thanks, pamela. president obama with 23 days to fix thousands of years' worth of problems. "the lead" starts right now. rebuking an ally. secretary of state john kerry saying, unless a palestinian state is formed, israel will have to face a dilemma of being jewish or democratic but cannot be both. as president obama makes one final drive to try to forge a peace process in the middle east. bumpy ride. president-elect trump taking on president obama on twitter naturally accusing the man he will soon replace to put up roadblocks to his transition. might he have a point? payback time. president obama expected to announce punishment for vladimir
putin and his hackers, both on the grid and off. good afternoon, everyone, welcome to "the lead," i'm jake tapper. we'll begin today with the world lead, of course, with just about three weeks until president barack obama joins the long list of u.s. presidents who could not broker peace between the israelis and the palestinians today his secretary of state john kerry gave a speech that seemed focused on rebuking israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu for undermining any hopes for a two-state solution. this comes at a time when the relationship between the two countries may be at its lowest point since the eisenhower administration, and with a president-elect waiting in the wings tweeting, telling netanyahu essentially, just a few more days, bebe, i am on my way. kerry stated today that a two state solution is the only path to peace. defending a u.n. resolution to condemning settlements. something the prime minister called a shameful ambush.
elise labott is live for us at the state department. 23 days until kerry hits the slope. what was the purpose of the speech? >> reporter: he realizes his ideas may not have a home now, but after four years of trying unsuccessfully to make peace between israelis and palestinians he felt he couldn't walk out the door without putting forward his vision of peace and the policies that threaten it. >> the status quo is leading towards one state and perpetual occupation. >> reporter: in a lengthy and deeply personal final plea secretary of state john kerry issued a strong warning to israel that a two-state solution was in jeopardy directing his aim at the israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu. >> the israeli prime minister publicly supports a two-state solution but his current coalition is the most right-wing in israeli history with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements. >> reporter: at the same time
defending u.s. support of israel. >> no american administration has done more for israel security than barack obama's. >> reporter: netanyahu quickly called the speech a biased attack that only paid lip service to palestinian terror. >> what he did was to spend most of his speech blaming israel for the lack of peace. >> reporter: kerry's message comes amid a bitter war of words between u.s. and israel after washington refused to veto a u.n. resolution condemning israeli settlements, allowing it to pass. >> some seem to believe that the u.s. friendship means that the u.s. must accept any policy, regardless of our own interests, our own positions, our own words, our own principles. >> reporter: israel says it has proof washington secretly orchestrated the vote and will show it to president-elect trump when he takes office in a few weeks. >> we have it on incontestable evidence that the united states organized, advanced and brought this resolution.
>> reporter: kerry denied the claims and framed the vote as an effort to save israel from a policy that threatened its future as a jewish state. >> we reject the criticism that this vote abandons israel. on the contrary. it is not this resolution that is isolating israel. it is the permanent policy of settlement construction that risks making peace impossible. >> reporter: in his four years as secretary of state, a deal between israelis and palestinians has escaped kerry, but in a recent interview with cnn, he rejected the idea that he failed. >> i didn't fail. we didn't fail. the united states didn't fail. we put what i think is still the solution on the table. but the parties failed. >> reporter: even before kerry spoke, both president-elect trump and prime minister netanyahu criticized the obama administration. trump tweeting, we cannot continue to let israel be treated with total disdain and disrespect. stay strong, israel, january
20th is fast approaching. netanyahu responded, president-elect trump, thank you for your warm friendship and clear-cut support for israel. now, prime minister netanyahu warning against any more u.n. action. israeli officials very concerned that kerry's ideas could be enshrined in a new resolution before president obama leaves office. u.s. officials say they do not see any more u.n. action. meanwhile, president-elect donald trump is working with congress to de-fund the u.n. if that first vote was not overturned, jake. >> thank you very much. let's go live to jerusalem and our own cnn's correspondent oren liebermann. what is the general response in israel to the speech from secretary kerry? >> reporter: well, i don't think the speech is going to be incredibly popular at all. the u.n. security council resolution wasn't popular here among the left, the right or the middle. and i think many israelis, including the israeli government and certainly the prime minister
benjamin netanyahu see this speech as an extension of that security council resolution. netanyahu explicitly brought it up when mentioning why he opposed the speech. i don't think netanyahu sees much of a difference there. it's worth noting a few things. first, the speech wasn't carried live here. that may have something to do with how unpopular the security council resolution was itself. maybe the first few minutes but not the entire 70 minutes which means the israeli population didn't hear live at the end what kerry said were his parameters, his ideas for how to make progress on negotiations. second, netanyahu made very different statements when he responded to the kerry speech. one in hebrew was definitely for israelis. it was very different and much shorter than what he said in english. that was directed not only at americans but president barack obama specifically. here is part of what he had to say about his concerns about what might come next in obama's last three weeks in office. >> i think the united states, if it's true to its word, or at
least if it's now true to its word, should now come out and say we will not allow any resolutions, any more resolutions, in the security council on israel. period. not we will bring or not bring. we will not allow any. and stop this game, the charades. the decisions vital to israel's interests and the future of its children, they won't be made through speeches in washington or votes in the united nations or conferences in paris. they'll be made by the government of israel around the negotiating table, making them on behalf of the one and only jewish state, a sovereign nation that is the master of its own fate. >> reporter: i don't think there is any surprise here that the israelis oppose the speech, condemn and criticize the speech. the palestinians were happy to hear it. here is a statement from the
palestinian statement. the minute they agree to cease settlement activities and agree to implement the signed agreements on the basis of mutual reciprocity, the palestinian leadership stands ready to resume permanent status negotiations on the basis of international law. jake, you want to see where the conflict stands, listen to the two statements and realize they are nowhere near each other. >> thank you. joining me now from the white house, someone whom the israelis mentioned by name during the dispute. white house deputy national security adviser ben rhodes. thanks for joining us. >> thanks, jake. >> let's talk about what you just heard prime minister netanyahu said about the u.s. not allowing any more resolutions. let's play the sound of secretary of state john kerry talking about the u.n. and possible further actions. >> there are other countries in the u.n. who believe it is our job to dictate the terms of the solution in the security council. others want us to simply
recognize a palestinian state absent an agreement. but i want to make clear today, these are not the choices that we will make. >> just to be clear here, when secretary kerry says these are not the choices we will make, which is kind of vague, is he saying that the u.s. would veto any resolution in the u.n. which might dictate a peace solution or might recognize a palestinian state? >> yes. >> he would veto that? the u.s. will veto that? >> yes. we've made that clear over and over, jake. >> the point has been made by the israelis -- and i'd love your comment on this -- that there is no loss of things that the u.s. government, that the obama administration, could be leaving the stage talking about, whether it's the genocide in sudan, the crisis in syria, russian and chinese hacking. chinese intervention in the south china sea. climate change, et cetera. why focus on israeli
settlements? >> well, jake, we're working on those issues too. we'll be dealing with the russian hacking. we're dealing with climate change on a regular basis. i think it's a false argument to say that, because there are other issues, we shouldn't focus on this one. the fact of the matter is we are focused on this one because the current trends on the ground, particularly the current israeli settlement activity, is making a two-state solution potentially impossible and creating a reality where essentially what you'll have is a one-state solution where the west bank is increasingly occupied by israeli settlements. >> prime minister netanyahu today repeating that the israelis have indisputable evidence that the u.s. was behind the resolution. as you know, israeli's channel one reported on these alleged transcripts of a meeting between kerry and palestinian officials which national security counsel spokesman ned price flatout denied with a tweet. it's also true that the meeting between kerry and sab arakat is
on the website. was there any prior contact between white house officials or state department officials and either senior egyptian or senior palestinian officials specifically regarding the resolution that the egyptians put forward at the security council last week? >> jake, first of all, i think it's absurd that we are even talking about a report in an egyptian tabloid of a meeting that never took place. that's the first point. the second point is, we have meetings with the palestinians, with the israelis, with members of the security council all the time about any number of things. i wasn't in the meetings. what i can tell you with certainty is that we did not draft this resolution and put this resolution forward. this was something the palestinians and egyptians were working on for a long time. we are not at all shrinking from the fact that, when this came to a vote and we looked at the
language, we decided to abstain. i think what's happening here is an effort to distract from the distance of the actual debate. the question is why it is okay for there to be 90,000 settlers out side of the separation barrier that the israeli settlement has built. why does he say this is the most pro-israeli settlement in history. why is there a bill in the knesset that would legalize even the distant outposts in the west bank? this is an effort to distract from the real debate we should be having that secretary kerry talked about today. >> you are not suggesting that the white house and the state department, that you didn't know that the palestinians and the egyptians were planning this and you -- and you're not denying that you told them that you might abstain, thus allowing it to pass. >> no, that is not the case,
jake. we never told anybody how we would vote on the text of the resolution because we didn't know what the text would be until it was introduced by the egyptians. all the time we have conversations about different resolutions kicking around in the security council. we had not communicated how we would vote, we did not draft it. we didn't know what the text would be until it was put forward. the president didn't give her power to settlemecement it untiy of the resolution. we abstained because we believed it was the right thing. we're willing to defend our abstaining on the resolution. i thi how are their policies. pursuing laws to legalize outposts in the west bank and displacing palestinians from their homes in the west bank, how is it consistent with the stated policy of pursuing a two-state solution? >> part of the problem might
be -- there might be a disconnect for americans, is the notion that, on one hand you have israelis building housing settlements, and let's posit for the sake of argument that they are destructive to the peace process, but on the one hand you have israelis building housing settlements, and yet on the other hand you have palestinian leaders who have been credibly accused of inciting violence that has resulted in innocent israelis being killed. hamas, a group the united states government categorizes as a terrorist organization governs gaza. if the west bank had elections tomorrow, there is fear that hamas would win the elections. the question for a lot of voters would be, why are you focusing on the israelis? >> jake, we've given israel $38 billion in defense assistance in the last ten years. we defended israel when they went to war in gaza twice to
stop the rocket fire coming from hamas. time and again we've supported their right to defend themselves. the resolution condemned incitement and violence. that's one of the reasons we abstained because it had that balance. secretary kerry today condemned incitement, condemned violence. this is not a question of whether or not we've called out palestinian sectarianism. we have. and we've saved israeli lives with our defense for the iron dome missile defense system that has shot down rockets coming from gaza. the problem with the settlements that people need to understand is that this is building deep inside of the west bank. and what you hear in the united states often is rhetoric about support for a two-state solution. the reason this is worth focusing on, these are not just housing settlements, these are construction that is taking place on palestinian land, on what anybody who has looked at this issue understands to be a future palestinian state. jake, there is a term of art about building inside the blocks, that means building outside of the 1967 lines but
within what people generally expect to be the borders of an israel in a two-state solution. this is not even what's happening. this is building deep inside the west bank. i think part of what we're trying to do is bring more attention on that and have people like you reporting on that. this is changing the facts on the ground and making a two-state solution nothing more than a talking point. >> i hear what you're saying, but you still didn't, respectfully, answer the question which is, voters out there, american citizens out there, might think on one hand you have people building homes and you're calling them illegal and detrimental to the peace process, but it's construction. ultimately people can leave houses. on the other hand you have people killing people and that's just final. and that there seems to be a moral equivalence argument being made that might rub a lot of people the wrong way and confuse them. >> there is no moral equivalence. there is no justification tore terrorism. no settlement construction should ever justify terrorism or
incitement to terrorism. there is no question on that. secretary kerry made that clear today. the fact of the matter is, jake, describing them only as people building houses, they are displacing palestinians from their homes, they're taking land that everybody who has looked at the issue thinks would be part of a palestinian state and they're making the possibility of a contiguous palestinian state with the territory connecting itself impossible. the question is, if it is u.s. policy, which it has been to support a two-state solution, why should we be silent in the face of policies that clearly are going to make that impossible? and as i mentioned, jake, this government has been very clear about its intentions. prime minister netanyahu saying himself this is the most pro-settlement government in israeli history. the knesset advancing a law to legalize the outposts deep in the west bank. if it's america's interests to pursue a two-state solution, why
should we be silent when there are policies being pursued that make a two-state solution impossible? >> one last question. president obama i know will not go softly into the good night. he will be active and talk about issues of concern to him, specifically when they disagree with president-elect trump. i am thinking mainly of climate change. i am thinking mainly of justice reform. is this also going to be in the bread basket of the soon-to-be ex-president? will president obama be making the peace process and palestinian rights one of the issues that he works on in his post-presidency? >> jake, i am not sure of the extent to which he'll focus on this in his post-presidency. i think he will be working on a lot of issues. i think one of the points we are trying to make here, jake, people tend to view this through the prism of american politics. it's certainly the case that the
next president indicated he'll take a different course of action. that won't change anything on the ground. on january 21st there will still be settlements causing israeli to be isolated internationally and causing a two-state solution to be put further and further at risk. again, this problem is not going away just because there is a new administration. it's going to continue to be with us just as it has been for decades. i think president obama will want to be engaged as he feels like he can make a positive difference, but, again, the extent to which he focusing on this i think will depend on circumstances. >> deputy national security adviser ben rhodes. thank you and happy new year. donald trump ratcheting up his public spat with president obama. is the president-elect the one out of line? we just heard from mr. trump. that story next. and here... and here. the answer is 8. bottom line, life is hard. that's why godaddy created website builder...
him. but, if you thought there was a chance that they might become bipartisan besties, no. cnn correspondent sun len slen y is live in palm beach. making it clear he is not happy about some of president obama's recent comments but he is trying to move forward with his transition plans. >> reporter: that's right. transition officials tell us the president-elect will be making an economic message of some sort later this afternoon, potentially within this hour. but even as he tries and works hard to stay on message and focus on his own transition, he at the same time is really diving deeper into this public feud that he is having with president obama. earlier in the day taking to twitter to basically allege that president obama is to blame for this transition not going as smoothly as he would have liked. but then moments ago trump coming out and telling reporters here at mar-a-lago that that's not true, that he really backing off the charge, saying that all is well. his transition, he thinks, is
going quite smoothly. huddl huddled at his mar-a-lago estate, president-elect donald trump escalating his public spat with barack obama, taking direct aim at the president tweeting today, quote, doing my best to disregard the many inflammatory president "o"statements and roadblocks. thought it would be a smooth transition. not. that coming after president obama used his high-profile speech at pearl harbor tuesday to take a veiled jab at his successor. >> even when hatred burns hottest, even when the tug of tribalism is at its most primal, we must resist the urge to turn inward. we must resist the urge to demonize those who are different. >> reporter: the escalating war of words between the outgoing and incoming president a sharp departure from the immediate post-election vow to work
together. >> we now are going to want to do everything we can to help you succeed -- >> reporter: with promises from both side for a peaceful transfer of power. >> i very much look forward to dealing with the president in the future, including counsel. >> reporter: the trump transition team today attempting to down-play the tension. >> the current president and his team have been very helpful and generous with their team as far as the actual transition, the mechanics of the transition. and i expect them to continue to speak on a fairly regular basis. >> reporter: the relationship showing public strains. obama quipping he thinks he would have won the election if he could have run again. >> i am confident that, if i had run again and articulated it, i think i could have mobilized the majority of american people to rally behind it. >> reporter: trump tweeting president obama campaigned hard and personally in the very important swing states and lost. the voters wanted to make
america great again. taking another swipe at the president altering a thanks obama catch fries to thanks donald. trump talking in the third person, giving himself credit on the economy tweeting the u.s. consumer confidence index surged four points to 113.7, the highest level in more than 15 years. thanks, donald. at mar-a-lago today, trump trying to focus on his own transition. >> very good. you don't think so? >> reporter: as trump takes his meetings here at mar-a-lago, we do expect at some point to have more job decisions and announcements potentially coming near the end of the week including, jake, those still yet to be named cabinet positions. there are at least a few. jake. >> sunlen serfaty, thank you so much. for more on the transition of power and maneuvering, let's bring in new york congressman peter king, a republican who met
with trump earlier this month. thanks for joining me, as always. >> thank you, jake. >> see if you can clear this up for me. on one hand we have president-elect trump, who suggests that the transition is not going smoothly. and on the other hand we have president-elect trump who suggests that the transition is going very smoothly. which one is right? >> i would say what donald trump is saying is that some of the statements that president obama is making, or some of the actions as far as the u.n., with israel, for instance and president obama saying he thinks he could have won if he had run again, that is interfering, let's say, the psychology of the transition. but as far as the actual positioning, as far as the appointments, as far as getting the -- his new administration in place, donald trump feels that the transition is going smoothly. overall, from what i understand, that the actual people working at the white house are cooperating with the trump people to make that work. so i think his complaint is with president obama himself, not with the administration, and
certainly not what's happening on the ground. >> fair enough. let me ask you, though, is it fair to say that president-elect trump has also not hued to traditional norms when it comes to respecting the idea that there is one president at a time? he has been very active talking about taiwan and china. he has been discounting what the intelligence community says. it's also fair, if you'll let me posit the point, that okay, what president obama said about maybe he would have won a third term, also true that president-elect trump hasn't really been traditional either. >> no, he hasn't been traditional. but i think, for instance, in the administration -- without starting the issue all over again -- somebody in the cia leaking out that they concluded that the russians were st. petersburg donald trump over hillary clinton, i mean, that to me was an unfair shot coming from the administration, especially since it never provided evidence to back it up. but overall, i think that donald trump is non-traditional.
on the other hand, he has been respectful of president obama. at the rallies he was having, the victory rallies, and anytime people would start booing or making noises about either president obama or the first lady, donald trump would jump in to defend them and say how cooperative they have been, how friendly they've been. and giving them credit for their very best of intentions. all in all, donald trump is non-traditional. he is doing it his way. i think he is showing respect for both president obama and the presidency. >> i am sure you disagreed with much of secretary of state kerry's speech today about the israeli settlements. but let me ask you as a general point. is it fair to say that the continuing construction of settlements in the west bank is actually an impediment to a peaceful solution and a two-state solution? >> ultimately some of those settlements will have to be scaled back. but i think, despite what ben rhodes was saying, there was a
moral equivalence tone to what john kerry was saying between settlements on one hand and terrorist activities and murders carried out by the palestinians on the other. i don't think he gave the israelis enough credit for what they've done over the years. back in 2000, president clinton later told me it was one of his biggest disappointments. the israelis gave the palestinians almost everything they wanted. prime minister braque at the time with arafat. and he walked away from the deal even though president clinton spent the last six weeks in office trying to close the deal. i was in israel in 2005 when prime minister sharone gave up gaza. he did that resisting many people in his own country. israelis have made sacrifices over the years and i don't think john kerry gave them enough credit. i was in jerusalem with prime minister rabin in 1993, the day the agreement was reached in
oslo with pérez and arafat. i met with shimon peres later. i think the israelis have made many steps forwards peace and they've not been re sip row kated by the palestinians. how the white house is preparing to punish moscow for meddling in the election. ♪ if you have moderate to severe ulcerative colitis or crohn's, and your symptoms have left you with the same view, it may be time for a different perspective. if other treatments haven't worked well enough, ask your doctor about entyvio,
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anything with a screen is a tv. stream 130 live channels. plus 40,000 on demand tv shows and movies, all on the go. you can even download from your x1 dvr and watch it offline. only xfinity gives you more to stream to any screen. download the xfinity tv app today. welcome back to "the lead." revenge may be a dish best served digitally. digitally. digitally. sorry. today we are learning that the obama administration is planning retaliatory messages against russia for meddling in the u.s. election. officials telling us the actions are expected to include covert action, sanctions and
additionally, possibly cyber attacks back at them. in return russia is promising to respond to any, quote, hostile steps that the united states government might take. bringing in democratic senator chris murphy, who is a member of the senate foreign relations committee. thank you for joining me. appreciate it. >> yeah, sure. >> so, possible retaliatory measures against russia. might include covert operations. if that's true, why announce that you're going to do it? >> you know, especially if it's paired with public sanctions, it does seem a little strange to signal that there are going to be covert actions. you also don't want to fall into the same trap here to the extent that we are decrying the russians' attempts to influence an american election, you also don't want to be caught doing the same types of things inside of russia. i would argue that robust sanctions could likely be enough to send a strong message to the russians that this is
unacceptable. we also have to communicate to them as to what the consequences would be if they continued this. i think it is a little strange to convey you'll do something secretly. it's not that secret if you convey it in that manner. robust sanctions would be a strong message. >> the other thing that's odd about it, before the russian ambassador to turkey was assassinated the president and the administration said something similar about responding in kind though they wouldn't know the time and place, et cetera. that was used against the west and the united states suggesting that president obama and the west inaccurately let me fe emphasize, had something to do with the assassination. >> i think we have to make clear that, no matter what we do, it will be misconstrued and turned into propaganda. i don't think that we can try to tailor our actions in u.s.-russia policy to avoid it being used in propaganda efforts. right now, putin, given the weak
state of his economy relies on anti-americanism in order to prop himself up. so whether we engaged in sanctions or we let this interference in u.s. elections go, putin's only path to remaining in power is to create a boogie man, the straw man, of america on the other side. i am not as concerned about that. they'll always try to twist what we do to create us as a convenient enemy to sustain his popularity inside russia. >> senator, there have been sanctions against russia since the annexation of crimea. all that did was dissuade vladimir putin to interfere in our elections. what evidence is there that any sanctions work on putin? >> i think we have to understand that there is a long game to be played here. the russian economy is incredibly weak, and right now he has been able to sustain his popularity and his power through this kind of nationalism and anti-americanism. but the sanctions ultimately will create a weakness around him that will make it hard for
him to preserve his power. so i understand that we may not get in the short term the russian reaction that we want. but we have to look back to what we did in the wake of the invasion of afghanistan. we imposed sanctions that we held for a long time on the russian economy that eventually led to the soviet union's collapse. we may be in for that kind of long game again here. >> let me ask you about comments made by senator lindsey graham of south carolina talking about the support that so many senators have for the intelligence community and its conclusions that russia did interfere in the elections. let's roll that clip. >> there are 100 united states senators, amy klobuchar is on this trip with us. she is a democrat from minnesota. i would say that 99 of us believe the russians did this, and we're going to do something about it. along with senator mccain, after this trip is over, we're going to have the hearings and we're going to put sanctions together that hit putin as an individual
and his inner circle for interfering in our election. and they're doing it all over the world, not just in the united states. estonia is hit all the time. they are interfering in elections in democratic countries' efforts to self-determination all over the world. it's just not in our back yard. >> do you think that the u.s. senate led by republicans will push back on president-elect donald trump who has been dismissing the conclusion of the intelligence agencies? >> i mean, it strikes me as a little optimistic. i like lindsey a lot. he may have heard his leader senator mcconnell say something in private that he hasn't said publicly. he favors an investigation in the intelligence committee, most of which will happen behind closed doors. no members of the caucus have directly taken on donald trump on his support for russia. looks like they'll support a nominee for secretary of state who has no interest in broaching
any of these tough issues with putin. so i am not as optimistic as lindsey is that we are going to get a real public investigation and a bipartisan consensus to push back against russia. i just have seen no signs so far, aside from a little bit of rhetoric from senator mccain and senator graham, that republicans are actually willing to take on trump in his fantasy in which he believes that he can achieve some new detente, some new understanding with vladimir putin, this vicious, brutal dictator who needs anti-americanism inside russia to politically survive. >> thank you so much and happy new year. >> thanks. president obama increasing the u.s. investment to fight isis as he leaves office. so what is the state of the battle that donald trump is about to inherit? that story next. won't replace te of your totaled new car. the guy says you picked the wrong insurance plan. no, i picked the wrong insurance company. with liberty mutual new car replacement™, you won't have to worry
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attack that left 12 dead. a prosecutor says the 40-year-old's phone number was found an the attacker's cellphone. dutch police say it's likely the t terrorist travelled through the netherlands before reaching italy where he was killed. isis believed it inspired the attack to release video of amri pledging his allegiance to the terrorist group. on the battlefield isis may be suffering major losses in syria and iraq. a senior military official telling cnn as many as 50,000 isis fighters have been killed since the war against the terrorist group began. just days before leaving office, president obama is trying to make a final push against isis by sending more than 200 additional u.s. troops into syria. cnn pentagon correspondent barbara starr filed this report. >> reporter: u.s.-backed fighters near raqqa, syria, preparing to attack, hoping to drive isis out. cnn cannot independently verify
this new video. getting to raqqa has been a top u.s. military priority. now donald trump is inheriting an isis war that just got even more dangerous for u.s. troops since his tough campaign talk. >> we got to get rid of isis. quickly. quickly. >> reporter: the first of 200 additional u.s. troops authorized by president obama to go into northern syria will begin moving in and out of the area in the coming days, a u.s. official tells cnn. but the region is so perilous, american troops will only stay for a few days at a time. training local forces no longer a main focus. u.s. troops will have orders to help turkish and kurdish troops who are close to outright war betwe between themselves focus on isis. as turks approach the down of al bab they fight kurds instead of
isis. it is raqqa to the south that the u.s. wants everyone to head for. the turks want u.s. support, even air strikes, the u.s. ground forces could call the strikes in for turkish president erdogan. >> we are talking to them about how to help them. >> reporter: one official tells cnn the u.s. troops will not initiate combat but may well find themselves in a combat situation. the pentagon believes the risk is vital to stop future isis attacks in the west. >> we know that central to external operations plotting is the city of raqqa. and that's why we need to get down there and isolate that city as fast as we can. >> reporter: u.s. officials say there are specific buildings in raqqa where they believe top isis operatives may be hiding. u.s. drones and communications intercepts are gathering
intelligence on those targets, waiting to strike them when civilians are not there. the big unknown, will trump hand over the raqqa fight to russia and the syrian regime. >> if you pull completely out, you watch focus drift away from defeating isis and capturing -- recapturing raqqa and eliminating the terrorist threat that emanates from that city. >> reporter: so what could president donald trump do differently about isis than president obama? well, he could, in fact, turn some of this fight, if you will, over to moscow but it's not clear that moscow shares the same priority about getting to raqqa and the u.s. believes raqqa is a threat to u.s. international security because of the isis plotters. jake. >> big question. republicans may have the white house and a majority in close come january 20th but it doesn't mean it will be smooth sailing. we'll look at the battles
we're back with more on our politics lead. next tuesday the 115th congress will be sworn in. once donald trump takes office, january 20th, republican party will control both the executive and legislative branches of the government for the first time in for mon a decade. a senior leadership aide says top republicans are moving quickly to pass three measures including a house resolution condemning the recent vote of
the u.n. on settlement restrictions. two other bills will address federal regulations it passed in the last session. manu raju filed this report on what to expect in the incoming congress. >> reporter: for the first time in nearly a dozen years, republicans will control all of washington. and they're plotting an ambitious agenda on capitol hill. a sweeping rewrite of the tax code. new infrastructure projects. a ninth supreme court justice. and their top goal, a repeal of president barack obama's signature legacy item, obamacare. >> the obamacare repeal resolution will be the first item up in the new year. >> reporter: republican leaders privately acknowledge it won't be easy, especially repealing the health care law without a clear plan to replace it. and, in the aftermath of surging enrollment numbers for obamacare. >> what happens to the 20 million people with health
insurance? are you going to just kick them off and suddenly they don't have health insurance? >> reporter: next month the republicans will immediately try to pass a budget, a process that will allow them to repeal much of obamacare, including subsidies to buy health insurance and an expansion of medicaid, all on a party-line vote in the senate. but some key aspects of the law cannot be repealed through the budget process, including prohibiting insurers from denying coverage to those with preexisting conditions and the mandate requiring people to purchase health insurance. conservatives determined to scrap the law are already warning of a revolt if president-elect donald trump accepts anything short of a full repeal. >> if he pursues just amending obamacare, how would you respond? >> i am not going to agree with that. >> reporter: the process to replace obamacare will be even tougher because republicans will need to overcome a senate
filibuster, meaning they'll need the support of at least eight democrats to enact a new health care law. but the new senate democratic leader, chuck schumer, is already warning that his party won't help the gop replace the law. >> just repealing obamacare, even though they have nothing to put in its place and saying they'll do it sometime down the road will cause huge claalamity from one end of america to another. they don't know what to do. they're like the dog who caught the bus. >> reporter: gop leaders say congress will effectively delay the repeal from taking effect until legislation is approved to replace the law. a process that could take years. >> there needs to be a reasonable transition period so that people don't have the rug pulled out from under them. >> reporter: but that approach is only bound to cause tension with top conservatives who want immediate action. >> look, i think health care
will be better and cost less when obamacare is gone, so why would we want to take three years to get rid of it? >> reporter: jake, gop officials tell me that rather than a comprehensive obamacare replacement they're looking at passing a series of smaller health care bills that they hope will win bipartisan support, setting that aside, though, another huge fight looming over reforming the tax code for corporations and individuals, and that is expected to dominate action on the hill for much of next year. but adding to that, a slew of major confirmation fights, including trump's pick for the supreme court, and you can see that trump's agenda next year could be filled with huge accomplishments or it could get quickly bogged down in capitol grid lock. >> thank you so much. did china lay down the gauntlet for the next space race? where that country is promising to go by 2020. that story next.
welcome back to "the lead." the world lead today, china aiming upward with a plan to be among the major space powers in just the next few years. the plan calls for a landing on the dark side of the moon by 2018 and on mars by 2020. that's ambitious for a nation that came pretty late to the space race. china did not launch its first satellite until 1970, just after neil armstrong had walked on the moon. china has been pumping billions into research and training in the decades since. saying it still wants to put a human on the moon but will focus on robotic missions for now. pop culture lead. you've already taken our prince, now our princess, the guy who had faith and ziggy stardust and countless others. we have had it with you, 2016. one guy will be damned if you dare lay your hands on the last surviving golden girl. a man in south carolina set up a gofundme page hoping to raise enough money to do whatever it
takes and travel wherever he needs to protect the 94-year-old national treasure betty white through the end of the year. he's hoping to raise $2,000 and says he'll donate it to a local theater if betty white tells him thank you for being a friend but buzz off. that's it for "the lead." turning it over to jim sciutto in "the situation room." serious jeopardy. secretary of state john kerry warns that a two state solution for israel and the palestinians now in serious jeopardy. he hits israel hard for its expansion of settlements and forcefully defends president obama's commitment to israel's security. israel's leader responds calling the speech biased against israel. middle east tweets. before kerry's speech donald trump takes to twitter criticizing president obama's approach and israel's prime minister follows suit tweeting right back